P.O. Box 1184, Greenbelt, MD 20768-1184


August 2015 31st Year of Publication


August 11 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 at 6900 Greenbelt Road. Reservations are required due to our new venue, so please contact Alberta Moran either on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via email at no later than noon on Friday, August 7th. Dr. George Huffman, Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, will be our speaker and whose presentation topic will be entitled “Taking Satellite-Based Precipitation from the Sandbox to the Big-Time.”
September 8 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Paul Hertz, Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters (and who previously served as Chief Scientist in the same directorate) will be our speaker. He is currently responsible for NASA’s research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe works, explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and search for Earth-like planets.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Our July luncheon had an unusually large number of attendees because we not only had an outstanding speaker, Jeff Gramling, Project Manager for the Tracking & Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) Project Office, but also many Goddard interns and their mentors. Mablelene Burrell, Goddard’s Intern Coordinator, brought 19 college interns who represent colleges and universities throughout the country. They were physics; mechanical, electrical and aerospace engineering; and business and human relations majors from sophomores to second-year doctoral students. They introduced their mentors and described the exciting work they are involved in at Goddard. Members were quite impressed with the complexity and challenges presented by the interns’ projects.

Jeff Gramling provided a brief history of the TDRS System (TDRSS) development from 1976 to the present time and listed the Project Managers over that period, which included Ron Browning and Tony Comberiate, current GRAA President and Vice President. He showed videos of the launches of TDRS-K and L on Atlas Centaur rockets as well as an animation of the deployment separation sequence from the Centaur to geostationary orbit, which takes 10 days to reach. Jeff also shared an animation about how the operational system is accessible to many Earth-orbiting satellites simultaneously. Some of the missions the TDRSS now supports are the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope, Terra satellite, Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft (which Ye Ed erred in identifying in the June newsletter as being a constellation of five, vice four, satellites), Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite, balloon flights, Orion tests, and launch vehicle ascent. In the 1990’s, the Guam Remote Ground Station was established to provide science support to the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory when tape recorders failed. This closed the previous zone of exclusion and now full global coverage is available and used, which is especially important to the ISS. Services in S, Ku and Ka band frequencies are now provided to users. After the first spacecraft series (TDRS-1 through 6), there are no longer any commercial communication capabilities onboard. TDRS-M, the last spacecraft in the third series of buys, is in the integration and testing phase awaiting a launch vehicle to be procured/assigned. Another feature of TDRS-K, L and M is the 16-foot single access antennas that span a larger rotational arc, thus allowing some satellites beyond lower Earth orbit to use TDRS. There are now nine operational TDRS on orbit. Early in the TDRSS Program, it was defined as a US national asset and utilization history has demonstrated that to be true.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Jackie Gasch received tax-deductible contributions from the following: Ronald Britner (in honor of former Station Directors), William Bryant (in memory of Henry Price), Kent Cockerham, John Fuchs, James Heppner, Larry Hull, Elizabeth Jay, George Kraft, John Lesko, Raymond Mazur, William McGunigal, Matt Opeka, Phyllis Radovich, Ronald Reeder, Barbara Shavatt (in memory of Elaine Montgomery), and Forest Wainscott II.

RECENT RETIREES/ALUMNI: Alan S. Binstock, Philip T. Chen, Theodore R. Gull, Rhoda Hornstein, Karen L. Moe, David K. Martin, William R. Oegerle, Delores J. Shaut, Philip M. Shimkaveg, Susan S. Trelease, and David L. Toll

THOUGHT FOR AUGUST: Even duct tape can’t fix stupid; however, it can help muffle the sound!


GODDARD’S BUILDING 8 AUDITORIUM RENAMED: In a dedication ceremony held on June 24th, Goddard’s Building 8 Auditorium was renamed the Dr. Noel Hinners Auditorium in his memory and to honor his leadership while serving as Goddard’s fifth Center Director during the period June 14, 1982 to June 22, 1987, as well as his earlier and later management roles at NASA Headquarters.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES - IT HAPPENED IN AUGUST: On August 16, 1984, a Delta 3925 rocket launched the Active Magnetospheric Particle Tracer Explorer (AMPTE) mission from Cape Canaveral, FL. This international mission consisted of three spacecraft: the German component was known as the Ion Release Module or IRM, which provided multiple ion releases in the solar wind, the magnetosheath, and the magnetotail; the US component was known as the Charge Composition Explorer or CCE, which was instrumented to detect the lithium and barium tracer ion releases that were transported into the magnetosphere within its elliptical orbit; and the British component was known as the United Kingdom Satellite or UKS, which used thrusters to keep in close proximity to the IRM to provide two-point local measurements. The mission was designed to create the first artificial comet in the form of a plasma cloud and to study the access of solar-wind ions to the magnetosphere, the convective-diffusive transport and energization of magnetospheric particles, and the interactions of plasmas in space. The AMPTE mission ended on August 13, 1986. The Project Scientist was Dr. Steven Curtis and the Project Manager was Gilbert Ousley, Sr., both GRAA members.